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Ascenders: High School for the Recently Departed (Ascenders Saga: Book 1)
Publisher: Big Picture Media

Ascenders: High School for the Recently Departed is about the death and afterlife of one Walker Callaghan, a 17-year-old high school journalist who was in a really unfortunate car accident with her mother. She doesn't realize it at first, because instead of waking up on her Aunt Ginny's couch in downtown Chicago, where she and her mom have recently been crashing (no pun intended), she just woke up in a huge house with beautiful brand new furnishings. Pretty cool, but strange, especially since they're flat broke. Then again, it's not so cool that her mom has uprooted her and moved so suddenly and without warning, especially since she is a senior in high school and the editor of the school paper. As Walker is introduced to the school she'll be attending, a grand and imposing institution called The Academy, things get even weirder. Some of the kids tell her how lucky she is that her mom is with her, while others are just like every other mean girl you've ever encountered in every other high school. And then there's the brooding handsome loner, Daniel Reid. Black hair, grey eyes and a stand-offish demeanor; in other words, Walker's interest is definitely piqued, especially when she is seated by him in class. Even though Daniel treats her dismissively, Walker aims to wear him down.

She soon realizes that most of the kids live on campus and now the comments about her mom being with her start to sink in. Then there's the colorful array of teachers at her school. I'll leave them to you to discover, but I had a great time figuring out who all these dead famous folks were who taught at the school. To compound the awesomeness of this place, there are no tests, no homework and you can eat whatever you want, no matter how bad you may have been told it is for you all your life. What a place this is! There is one hard and fast rule, though - never try to go back to the land of the living. Period, end of story. Okay, so maybe being dead isn't so bad after all.

As she and Daniel get to know each other, she discovers that he lives next door with his younger siblings, Peter, Andy and Jenna. Being the reporter that she is, Walker also discovers that Daniel has a very good reason for wanting to "go back" despite the consequences, and the pair hatch a plan to go to the neighboring school, I.T.T., to get some intel based on a rumor about an inmate there. I.T.T. is where the bad kids are sent, and in addition to being The Academy's fierce hockey rival, harm can come to Academy students visiting I.T.T. if they anger the wrong person. What starts out as a series of field trips turns into a harrowing journey, where the consequences could be permanent.

I absolutely loved Ascenders: High School for the Recently Departed. The characters were interesting, the story was compelling, and the end only left me wanting to see what happens in future installments. There's excitement, drama, danger, romance and comedy, all wrapped up in a wonderful story focusing on the love of family. If you enjoy a good yarn with some fantastical twists, you'll really enjoy Ascenders: High School for the Recently Departed. Personally, I can't wait for Book 2.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins
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